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The Boundaries of Manners: Ritual and Etiquette in Early Confucianism and Stohr’s On Manners

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Early Confucian philosophy affirms and lends support to Karen Stohr’s argument that manners are a primary means by which we express moral attitudes and commitments and carry out important moral goals. Indeed, Confucian views on ritual can extend her insights even further, both by highlighting the role that manners play in cultivating good character and by helping us to probe the conceptual boundaries of manners. The various things that we call etiquette, social customs, and rituals (all of which the Confucians saw as expressions of li 禮 “ritual”) do much of the same work for us, ethically, and this work not only expresses moral attitudes and commitments, but cultivates them as well. Accordingly, Confucian thinkers can help us to recognize how Stohr’s argument can be applied more broadly than etiquette, and how good manners both express and cultivate good character.

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Correspondence to Erin M. Cline.

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Cline, E.M. The Boundaries of Manners: Ritual and Etiquette in Early Confucianism and Stohr’s On Manners . Dao 15, 241–255 (2016).

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